Whether you're training for your tenth marathon or your first 5K, you're going to have moments when you doubt yourself. It often happens after a particularly bad run, or during a period when life gets in the way of your training. Maybe you'll convince yourself that you won't complete the entire distance, or that you'll never achieve that personal record you're striving for. If you're struggling with a case of runner's self-doubt, here are some ways to deal with those feelings, boost your confidence, and run to your potential:
Recognize some self-doubt is normal. Alberto Salazar, three-time winner of the New York City marathon, once said, "I had as many doubts as anyone else. Standing on the starting line, we're all cowards." So, yes, even elite runners struggle with these feelings of anxiety before races. A healthy amount of fear can actually be beneficial because it helps you stay motivated to continue with your training and run a smart race. Get a little too over-confident and you might slack off a little in your training or start out way too fast in your race.
Try self-talk. Of course, it's not good if your feelings of self-doubt start affecting the quality of your runs. When you start thinking negative thoughts, give yourself a little pep talk. You don't have to be that crazy person talking out loud to herself on the treadmill. Just develop some positive thoughts or a mantra that you run through your head. Remind yourself how hard you've been training, that you're strong, you're fit, and prepared to run to your potential. After some repetition, your positive attitude will become more automatic.
Be prepared. You might be worried about things you can't control, like the weather on race day. Take charge of the things that you can control. Figure out your race outfit, get familiar with the course, practice eating before your runs, and hydrating on the run. If you're traveling to a race and you're worried about forgetting an important race item, start packing early and use a checklist to make sure you're not missing anything. Having those factors under control will make you feel better about some of the unknowns.